* 42 *

There was a lot I could presume from this. Like I said before, Hiiragi wasn't acting much like herself that day.
I wondered about it the whole time I followed her. She wore a denim coat, a short skirt, and some kind of weird hat, none of which suited her at all. Not even a little.
But it clicked when I realized she wore it to make herself unidentifiable. And indeed, it succeeded in making you think it wasn't Hiiragi.
I was with her all through high school, so I was able to recognize her. But Tokiwa, I doubt he would be able to tell right away.

I didn't ask myself why she was following Tokiwa. Because wasn't it obvious?
Hiiragi was Tokiwa's stalker. Unlike me, she was a real stalker who did it because of her affection for him.
Kind of odd to talk about what makes a "real" stalker, huh...

Without even planning for it, I was succeeding at a double-stalking.
I kept watching for ten or twenty more minutes to confirm that Hiiragi was indeed stalking Tokiwa, then stopped.
I went to the parking lot of the nearby shopping mall, sat on a bench, and started smoking.
Now that I wasn't walking, I suddenly felt chilly, the hand I held my cigarette in trembling.
I stuck my free hand into my jacket pocket and endured the cold.

The people heading for their cars had such unbridled happiness on their faces, it made me feel horribly out of place.
Every time the automatic doors opened, I heard "Sleigh Ride" from inside. Like on the other side of that door was a land of pure happiness.

Thinking about how Hiiragi (who I thought my one ally) was obsessed with Tokiwa (I suppose my greatest enemy) depressed me.
Because it meant that Tsugumi who I longed for, as well as my ally Hiiragi, both loved Tokiwa.

Yes, in the end, even (well, maybe not "even") a girl like Hiiragi, whose face was hardened into an expression of "I just hate humans as a whole," was head over heels for a dashing young guy like Tokiwa - all because he showed her a little kindness.
I'd bet money on it. Because I had that inclination myself in my second life.
When you have such an immense inferiority complex, and someone superior to you is kind, you feel "Oh, how wonderful this person must be to show kindness to someone as worthless as me!" It's pure, it's naiveté.

While we had opposite motives, the fact Hiiragi and I were stalking the same person was pretty interesting, from a certain viewpoint.
Hiiragi's goal was Tokiwa, my goal was Tsugumi. And Tokiwa liked Tsugumi, and Tsugumi liked Tokiwa.
If everyone could just settle for less, the world would be such a peaceful place, I thought.
If I hadn't taken to unattainable Tsugumi, and Hiiragi didn't try to go for Tokiwa when they were worlds apart, then we could settle this with a lot less sorrow.

If I killed Tokiwa, it would make Hiiragi sad, I thought.
But I considered that, shortly afterward, she might be surprisingly happy that he was dead.
Considering what Hiiragi was like, it seemed a likely possibility.

No matter what it came to, Tokiwa was Tsugumi's to the end.
So if Hiiragi couldn't have him, she'd prefer if no one could - it wouldn't be surprising, I thought, if Hiiragi had that kind of twisted affection.

Chapter 43

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